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“I Can Do Whatever I Want”

That’s the quote that Bill Kristol used to title his column that headlines this week’s Weekly Standard, which along with 2017 Project , The Ethics and Public Policy Center, AEI, Heritage and other bright spots around D.C. think tanks have been working for a couple of years to drive home the message of the president’s lawlessness.

I wrote about the president’s first-term lawlessness in The Brief Against Obama, but the president’s indifference to separation of powers and established precedent with regards to the right boundaries on executive power –as with the recess appointments controversy or the decision to abandon DOMA prior even to a single circuit court decision– has accelerated in the second term. As the president’s recklessness has increased, the center-right have agreed on this at least: To make his lawlessness a centerpiece of the criticism. It isn’t just that policies are terrible –they are– but worse than that the president is shrugging off his Article II limits.

Monday’s unilateralism by the president shocked even some on the pro-Obamacare side of the aisle, and it seems to both Kristol and Yuval Levin –I interviewed both yesterday– that a sort of breakthrough in the public consciousness has been reached. So many changes have been made, –so many extra-constitutional alterations made at a moment’s notice, so many absurd justifications that did not not cover the transparent political agenda, and now more failures coming day after day– that something clicked this week with the broader public, and even “folks” who don’t care much for separation of powers talk seemed to notice that this president has broken all the rules, and that it is unsettling.

This breakthrough if real and sustained is because of the arguments made patiently over years from many corners. It is how the conservatives have to approach the fall: The president is out of control, and he is out of control in pursuit of profoundly flawed and harmful policies like Obamacare and abandonment of opposition to Iran’s nuclear program in all but empty words. House and Senate GOP alike, and the governors, need to keep focused on this near-fanatical unilateralism in pursuit of failed and dangerous policies has got to be cabined by the electorate via a sharp rebuke to all Democrats in November, up and down the ballot, and especially in the Senate races. The turn towards and focus on this central problem of the Obama failure would be assisted by Speaker Boehner’s announcement of an intention to step aside and the subsequent “reset” of the House GOP Conference, but that is up to the Speaker. Whether or not the House GOP want to be a part of the argument, conservative opposition to the president should coalesce around this lawlessness and make it the center-piece of Campaign ’14.

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    Hugh Hewitt
  • Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor, and broadcast journalist. A proficient blogger, Hugh Hewitt has one of the most visited political blogs in the U.S.

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